Getting the COVID-19 vaccine may have been a no-brainer for some, but for others, it wasn’t such a simple decision—especially in Birmingham’s underserved communities. To bring awareness to the importance of vaccination, UAB and Acclinate teamed up for a campaign called Voices to Vaxx to share real COVID stories from the community.
One local at the forefront of the efforts is Walladean Streeter, president of the Bush Hills Neighborhood Association. Streeter has done a few things to make her community better:
–Worked to keep the neighborhood safe by assembling the first neighborhood Block Watch
–Organized giveaways and fundraisers to help local students
–Developed green spaces and an urban farm for the community to enjoy
Streeter has also partnered with Bush Hills Connections, Inc., UAB Minority Health & Health Equity Research Center, Live HealthSmart Alabama and BL Harbert International to open Bush Hills Connections Complex, a new community center with a full kitchen, recreation center, auditorium, a courtyard garden patio and a farm stand, in May 2023.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Streeter saw many African Americans dying from the virus due to a lack of vaccine awareness and clinics. Motivated by her love and concern for all people, she decided to get involved by sharing her personal vaccine story through Voices to Vaxx.
“When I heard there was a way to be safe through the [COVID-19] vaccine, that’s when I decided it was the right thing for me to do. Vaccines are important because they save lives. It stops you from seeing your loved one leave you,” she said.
COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on Birmingham’s Black community—along with general distrust in the US healthcare system—left many with a tough decision: to vaccinate or not to vaccinate.
This is where Birmingham-based healthcare tech company Acclinate stepped in. Their goal is to build affective (emotional) trust with the Black community and other communities of color so they can make informed decisions about their health.
One way the company is able to do this is through their digital platform called NOWINCLUDED. Through the platform, people of color can:
–access health resources
–share personal health stories
–learn about clinical research
Follow NOWINCLUDED on Instagram for health resources and events.
In addition to engaging with community members, Acclinate partners with other organizations to make an even bigger impact. One example is Acclinate’s work with UAB and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Through the NIH Community Engagement Alliance (CEAL), Acclinate and UAB became a part of teams from across the US that share accurate information about COVID-19 and ways to manage the disease.
“For the third year of partnership with CEAL in 2023, we will extend our focus beyond COVID-19 and cover other health conditions or issues that disproportionately impact marginalized communities,” according to Acclinate. “Both UAB and Acclinate know it’s imperative to continue closing the gap on health disparities and will continue our partnership to amplify community stories and make health resources more accessible.”
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